Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Business School

They say opinions are like assholes (everybody has one) and that talk is cheap.   Both of these cliched witticisms suggest that you should be careful whose advice you take and that people can present their lives in a way which it decidedly is not.  I am very bad at remembering this.   Unfortunately, to my ever-increasing chagrin, I have absolutely no guile.  None.   I don't lie or even really schmooze or embellish, so I assume no one else does either.

 For instance, when I run into a friend from high school who asks me what I'm up to lately, I always say something to the effect of, "I work a X company in Dayton."  When the person follows up by asking, "Do you enjoy that?"  I say, "Well the pay is a joke and the hours are terrible.  But a job's a job."  Here is what I could say; "Oh I am just fantastic.   College was such a blast, I lived in Berlin for a while and traveled all through Europe!  And oh, I also interned in D.C. for a Senator!  And would you believe it, I got a job right out of college.  I live in my own apartment downtown and I bought myself a new car.  It's so nice to be able to completely support myself. Aren't I fabulous?!"   While none of the preceding was untrue, I will never be able to present my life like this.   Whenever I say something that could be objectively impressive, I always downplay it with, "Yeah, but it wasn't all that glamorous," or "I don't really think I can congratulate myself too much on that.  It's just what's expected of me."  Because that's honestly how I feel.   My father pointed out to me, however, that other people are exaggerating their own fabulousness, and that I am buying it hook, line, and sinker.  And even worse, letting it make me feel inferior.

Recently, I called my father with my weekly sobbing meltdown.  I was complaining about something that happened Friday night.  My parents and I went out to a restaurant in Columbus that one of my Dad's former coworkers owns with her husband.  She sat down and starting talking with us, and then asked me what I was doing and what were my goals.  I told her I was toying with the option of grad school, and when I stated my desired discipline she said, "Well that doesn't make much money, does it?"  Not, do you think you'll enjoy that?  Are you good at that?  Or even, are you excited about it?  Straight to salary.   Which made me feel like seven kinds of shit.   Then she told me I "really must" go to business school in order to be competitive.  Here's the thing about business school--I think it's like thinking for dumb people.  They teach you to reach conclusions which are PAINFULLY intuitive and make "business people" disregard their common sense and all feelings of warmth toward humanity and instead turn people into amounts of money.  That being said, the biggest frat boy idiot jock will probably make three times the highest earning potential in the fields that interest me, so, there is that.   But, I got to thinking, "really, must I go to business school?'

One of Tina Fey's many pearls of wisdom within the book, "Bossypants" is that whenever someone tells you you "really must" do something, it means you don't have to do it.   If you did, it would be obvious enough no one would have to say anything.  So, in reflection, (and through my father's gentle, logical, coaxing) I realized I really don't have to go to business school.  And that's good news, because I would hate it.  It's not a way that I think, and frankly, it's not a kind of knowledge I value.   I almost thought of writing "no offense" after that last line, because it's so deeply engrained in our culture that capitalism and the knowledge of its inner-workings are almost holy, but I disagree and you can choose to be offended if you want.  I know a lot of people who think art is stupid, so whatever, agree to disagree.

Despite my father's reassurances, I just can't shake the feeling that everyone knows something I don't.   I used to laugh at my classmates who chose their majors based on future earning potential.  I felt confident that pursuing my interests with little thought given toward future career plans would lead me to a place that would make me happy.  I'm realizing, however, that those people who said "a liberal arts degree--what the hell are you going to do with that?" the ones I laughed at, may have been right.   It's recently hit me, what the hell am I going to do with that?  And that chaps my ass.   Because while I wouldn't be happy in business school and no amount of money in the future would make it worth wasting years of my life pursing that degree, I also have to admit the lack of security involved with having a liberal arts B.A. doesn't exactly make me thrilled either.

So I do this maudlin soul-searching, what would make me happy, who am I, where do I fit in the universe thing instead.  Sometimes I think I am physiologically programed to be unhappy--that I'm just a grumpy, bitter cynic, and nothing will ever change that.  Other times I think when I think that I'm just on my period.  My point, I guess, if I have one, is that I haven't got it figured out yet.   So if you ask me, I won't tell you I do.   I'm starting to maybe realize a little bit that no one has it figured out, they just are better at hiding it.  

Monday, February 20, 2012

Yellow Springs/Young's Dairy

Columbus, OH apparently has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States.  This is not a surprising statistic (and possibly is not a true statistic, I couldn't be bothered it too look it up) when one takes into account there is nothing to do in Columbus, aside from consume.  Shopping and eating pretty much encompasses all that Columbus has to offer in terms of going "out".  Which is fine, because these are my favorite things to do.  

Dayton, however, is like Columbus without the restaurants or good shopping, so it puts me in quite a conundrum.  I never can think of any fun activities to do.  I always imagine there are people throwing pottery or bicycling, laughing jovially in their sweaters, mocking me as I stay in my apartment.   I know some of this is seasonal, but I want to be one of those people who goes to the pumpkin patch or the flea market just to browse, carrying little paper Starbucks cups holding hands with their significant other.  Do you know there are people who pick their own apples and then make homemade apple butter?  And most of them aren't even Amish!  My coworker and her husband took a cheese-making class a few weekends ago.  I really need to up my game.

So, when my boyfriend came up from Cincinnati to spend a lazy Sunday with me, I struggled to think of fun coupled-y activities that didn't include beer, sitting in a restaurant, or worse, just watching "Wife Swap" on Lifetime. I'm basically really lame, but as Patti Sanger will tell you, no one wants to date a lame ass.   My boyfriend and I are still in the stage where he hasn't discovered my true nature yet, so I needed an un-lame, romantic-ish couples activity to further cloak my desire to remain in a semi-comatose state during the weekends.   I ended up recycling a past date and decided it would be fun to head to Young's Dairy in Yellow Springs, then look around Yellow Springs at all the little hippie shops.  Cute, right?

In the car ride up to Yellow Springs I proved to be, as always, a charming car companion.  I spent the better part of the ride yodeling along to Dave Matthews Band, hi-pitch and off-key.  Then I found some gangster rap, and impressed my significant other with my smooth rhymes and slick moves.   I then dazzled him with conversation, like, "how do babies think if they don't know language?"  So, I'm sure my bf was especially grateful to exit the car when we stepped out into the pungent air hanging over the grounds of Young's Dairy.  Obviously, having remembered all the fun I had at Young's during my previous activity date,  I bolted straight for the goat barn.   You can touch them and play with them, but I'm kind of surprised the goats get much love at all because they just look like puppy-mill puppies, inbred and slightly stupid.   It doesn't help that their eyes are so far apart they can see around corners without turning their heads.   After petting the goats and running from the chickens,  I decided I wanted to feed the goats (kind of a disney princess thing, natch) but the pellet dispenser demanded quarters which neither I nor my date had, so naturally I just scooped out the remnants left in the dispenser from the last paying customers and scraped together a decent handful.   I'm telling you,  I'm nothing if not a lady.

After enjoying dairy fresh "Cow Patty" ice cream, my boyfriend and I left Young's and drove a few miles up the road to Yellow Springs.   For those of you who don't know, Yellow Springs is a town for aging hippies, full of ma and pop places, organic eateries, and head shops of all kinds.   The best part about Yellow Springs, however, is that it is a hippie haven, but it's located in the heart of bumble-fuck nowhere Ohio, where John Deere mailboxes outnumber their plain counterparts.  This combination is mind blowing and exotic, like if you were to see Giselle Bundchen shopping at the Family Dollar in Rio Grande, Ohio.  

So my boy and I wandered around, enjoying the local flavor.   We walked into a jewelry store which boasted spoon rings, but left without buying anything because they didn't have toe rings. I grumbled that they should have specified as the sign was misleading.  We also enjoyed a toy store, where the excited clerk told me that LOTR Legos are coming out.  I told him it sounds like another reason a whole population of people will never have a reason to leave their houses.  This was all fun.   The cherry on top of the entire day, however, was finding a small herbal remedy shop.   We walked inside and looked at the various healing herbal teas.   I was thinking I might have to buy some Lady Grey and then I was distracted by little yellow pellets that looked like the fertilizer Scott's Lawn Care used to spray across my parent's lawn.   It turned out to be bee pollen.   I asked the man behind the counter what exactly you did with it.  And he said you ate it and we only didn't know about it because "the western pharmaceutical companies want to pimp their synthetic products."  Sold.   You're supposed to do two teaspoons a day, one at breakfast, one at lunch, and apparently it boosts immunity, speeds your metabolism, is full of nutrients, and "energizes you faster than a Redbull."   I'm going to try it for a week, I'll let you guys know.  If it does everything it says, I'm pretty sure half of my paycheck will go to this stuff, but that's fine, because apparently you can survive on just bee pollen and no other food. 

So while I'm not particularly good at coming up with fun, folksy, couple activities, I'm fairly confident this bee pollen will boost my creativity.  Expect entries about a day spent weaving bonnets or making soap in the near future.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Hey Jealousy

I try very hard not to be jealous, because really, at my core I believe that there is enough of everything to go around, and just because someone has more of something doesn't mean you will have necessarily have less.  So I wouldn't say I'm "ever jealous" of my friends because it implies you want what they have and don't want them to have it anymore--I am instead, "envious" maybe?  Envious because I was to also have nice things?  I think I made up that distinction and really, it's just semantics.

So for those of you who are anti-semantic, I'll just get to the point.   Last night, as I was sitting with one of my best friends at Blind Bob's enjoying the hipster-watching and munching copious amounts of Blind Bob's delicious brand of kettle chips, my friend started talking about her new relationship.   He is wonderful.   He is everything she's ever wanted.   And I am... trying to be a good friend.   Really, I completely think my friend deserves a fantastic relationship, Lord knows she's kissed enough frogs.   But here's the thing.  The whole time as I was listening to her say how they have spent the whole week together in a love coma, it was all I could do to keep a smile clenched in my jaw and my eyes from watering.  

As per my previous blog entry; I love love.   My parents have been married for 30+ years and they still are both romantic and each other's right hands.  And while I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up, or what city I would want to live, or even if I would be a stay at home mom or career woman--I knew I wanted to marry my best friend and have a marriage like my parent's.  I never had that claustrophobic fear of commitment or the panicky feeling that if I got married I wouldn't get a chance to do all the things I wanted to do in my youth.

But that attitude hasn't amounted to much.   Now it seems like every person who has ever uttered the phrase, "I don't want a relationship" is happily paired-up.  That certainly describes the attitude of my Blind Bob's companion who told me like a week before she met him that she didn't want a relationship and had given up on men entirely. And then there's me.   I have been pretty badly hurt by relationships in the past, and yet I foolishly keep my heart open, just to let the next dip shit who doesn't deserve it tell me why I'm not good enough.

Because I have absolutely no ability to disguise my feelings, and because I didn't want my friend to think I wasn't happy for her because I was half-wincing through most of her gushing, I had to admit the whole situation was hard for me.  I finally told my friend at dinner, in the most eloquent of fashions, "It's not that I'm not happy for you.  You completely deserve this!   And I don't want you to ever hide your joy because you're afraid I'll be upset.  That's not what friends do.  But I just can't help feeling like it's that episode of 'Sex and the City' where Miranda gets pregnant by accident and she tells Charlotte, who has been injecting estrogen into her ass in order to get pregnant with no result.  I'm Charlotte and you're Miranda.  And the whole thing kind of makes my ass hurt."  

I don't mean to be a whiner.   I just have to admit, every time someone at work says, "Well maybe you're just trying too hard at your relationships," I want to fucking throw something.  It's so condescending and really unfair.  Like, easy for you to say when you're sitting on the other side looking at your sad, pathetic, single coworker.  The follow up explanation, "It just happened for me when I stopped looking for it," is basically the equivalent of saying don't think about a pink elephant and one will appear.  Are you thinking about a pink elephant?   What do you mean, now you are?   Well, shame.  

Maybe it's healthier to admit to that you're feeling envious when you are.  Or maybe I'm just a terrible friend.   Obviously, I'm not an authority on this matter--but maybe I will be if I stop thinking about.  

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bad Dates 101

I think everyone has there fair share of bad dates; no chemistry, he shows up wearing a pinkie ring, etc.   In honor of Valentine's Day, I figured I would air some of my dirty laundry and give you a glimpse into some of my most memorable dates (and not in a good way).   In typical Annie fashion, most of these dates don't fall into the category of a typical bad date--these are the TITANIC of bad dates.   And yes, I said "these" plural.   After reading through this blog, you may wonder why after all these encounters I continue to go on dates, which could potentially turn into an hour of wishing the man across the table from me would choke on something so he could go to the emergency room and I could go home.  The answer, as simple and trite as it seems, is that I love love, and I will never give up believing there is someone out there who is perfect for me.   And I know that's not a bold statement at 23, but check me when 50 living alone with 5 cats, and I guarantee I'll say the same thing.

Like many of you, I had my first bad date when I had my first date.   I was in 6th grade, in that awkward in-between where puberty had hit hard enough to give me pimples and periods, but had not turned me into a teenager with big boobs.  I was also pretty fat.   I thinned out in 7th grade, but in order to picture this accurately: baby fat, braces, pimples, and awkward social graces.  Yum.  My parents dropped me and my man-friend off at the movie, and since the boy in question had told me via AIM, "I don't think you're that pretty but you have a great personality," I was fairly confident this was all coming up Annie.  Well, nothing happened, but afterward he did ask me, (again via AIM) if I would be "into it" if he kissed me.  I hope to God I didn't say yes, but I might have.  Anyway, it will never matter because we never had a second "date" and a chance at a brace-faced kiss.

Highschool was fairly kind to me via the dating game.  I did have one awkward encounter where the guy didn't bring enough money to leave a tip, so I took note of waitress's name and sheepishly handed her an envelope with a $10 bill and a note of profuse apology, but otherwise, nothing terrible.  I went to a lot of movies and high school football games, but not a lot of parties, and generally managed to not be a pariah but also not be anything near to homecoming queen.

Through most of college I didn't really "date,"  I did what everyone does; try desperately to trick a guy into flirting with you at a party and then hoping he drunkenly texts you, "party?!" next weekend.   Towards the end of my college tenure, however, I discovered the fantastic world of online dating.   While I still am a huge proponent of online dating, it also opens the floodgate for some near sociopaths.

I have this terrible habit of guiltily giving people the benefit of the doubt even when I know I'm not interested.  I think it's because my mom told me to always dance with the ugly guys who asked me at middle school dances, because the other good-looking guys would be hesitant to approach me if they saw me turn down people.  This was terrible advice.   I ended up dancing with disgusting B.O. infested, anime playing, wierdos, just like I have ended up going on dates with the people I am about to describe.  

This first bad-date was with a NO FUCKING JOKE chicken farmer, who lived near Cincinnati.  He had a sarcastic sense of humor, so I was like, "okay, let's try this."   He ended up showing up a full twenty minutes late, and honestly nothing could piss me off more.   I tried to be understanding and not a bitch (which obviously is against my nature) but the conversation was awkward and it seemed legitimately like he was bored shitless.  Fine.   The worst part, however, came with the check.  "So you just want to go dutch, or what?" he asked.   Never mind that HE invited me.   I threw down my card and actually was so frustrated that after he left I burst into tears.

In more thrilling examples, one time I went on a date with a successful older guy, only to hear him tell me after about 10 minutes that he had joined a Belarusian revolution after being recruited by a Belarusian freedom fighter he met in a homeless shelter.  As he explained how he was held as a P.O.W. "but worse because we weren't under the Geneva Convention," I sat in stunned silence because I had thought I was going out with a nice banker.   Another time, after moving the date up a half-hour and telling me with 15 minutes notice, the guy berated me for being 5 minutes late, told me I seemed like I was in a pissy mood enough times to actually cause me to be in a pissy mood, and waxed eloquent about how I needed to have a more positive outlook on life.   I literally sat there hating everything about him more and more with each passing minute.   Yet another time, I was told the guy had expected me to be "a conservative southern belle," because admittedly, he hadn't read anything I said in my profile, only looked at my pictures.

Again, I think everyone has bad dates.   My hope for ya'll reading this is that your Valentines Day is full of wonderful romance that sweeps you off your feet, and not a chicken farmer who makes you pay, or someone who yells at you for being late when it was they who changed the time, or worst of all someone who talks about being a P.O.W.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Long-Suffering Wife

I am a firm believer that you learn something from every romantic relationship, especially the ones that don't work out.   As you can seem from my MANifesto, I have learned what I want out of a relationship, but more importantly, I have learned what I could never accept.

Today, I went up to Columbus to meet my parents for dinner, and we were talking about some of my ex-boyfriends.   And there have been some DOOZIES, ladies and gentleman.   DOOZIES.   But what I got out of these relationships is this--I was never meant to be a long-suffering wife.  

Everyone knows a long-suffering wife archetype.  She has been married for some ridiculously long amount of time by a man who is, for all intents and purposes, a giant, selfish, egotistical prick.   He expects his wife to build up his already inflated ego and to wash, clean, cook, raise his children, and be damned grateful for the privilege.  The long-suffering wife is miserable but clings to her pitiful existence out of some bizarre, misplaced loyalty or even worse, out of some equally bizarre, misplaced religious ideal (Virgin Mary, "Women, honor thy husband" unadulterated bullshit).  And then, to cap it off, she beams as people tell her what "a saint," she is.   Because her unlimited threshold to take shit from people is all she has.

I have been in several relationships where I was expected to assume the role of the long-suffering wife.  In these cases there were "rules" (like only one weeknight sleepover) or he needed "space" (like only one weeknight sleepover) and my emotional needs were completely secondary.  I tried for a while.   I baked pies and lopsided cakes, tried to be attentive and put my needs last, but then I got sick of it and wanted a fucking back rub.  Why do I do this thing where I try to convey to the men with whom I'm in relationships how acceptable and desirable I am?   Shouldn't they be exerting as much energy trying to demonstrate to me that they WANT to be in my life?  It's a two-way street; I may be applying for the job but I also have to accept your offer.  At this point, it just comes down to the fact that I refuse to play a supporting role in my own life.

I think at one point or another everyone has been a "long-suffering" something--employee, student, daughter, sister, brother, friend.  But at some point, being a martyr has got to wear thin.  I'm definitely guilty of it, but tonight as I was thinking about it in terms of relationships, I had a breakthrough.  I have been long-suffering, but now I'm pulling a Kenny Rogers and knowing when to fuckin' fold 'em.   Because I am done feeling sorry for myself and delighting in my own bondage.   This day, ladies and gentleman, marks a change in my life.   More to come later.